War fallout and aid demands overshadow climate talks in Egypt : NPR

Steam rises from a coal-fired power plant with wind turbines nearby in Nuremberg, Germany, as the sun rises on November 2, 2022.

Michael Probst / AP

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Michael Probst / AP

Steam rises from a coal-fired power plant with wind turbines nearby in Nuremberg, Germany, as the sun rises on November 2, 2022.

Michael Probst / AP

BERLIN – When world leaders, diplomats, campaigners and scientists head to Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt next week to talk about tackling climate change, don’t expect them to. parting the Red Sea or other miracles would make great strides in curbing global warming.

Each year, there are high hopes for the two-week United Nations climate meeting, and it is almost inevitable that it will fail to implement another landmark treaty like the one already agreed upon. 2015 in Paris.

But those are different days, marked by the spirit of cooperation between the world’s two biggest polluters – the United States and China – as well as the global perception that a failure to reach an agreement will cost humanity. kind of falling into oblivion.

This November, the geopolitical tiles have changed: a devastation war in UkraineRising food and energy prices, and growing hostility between the West and Russia and China on the one hand, create difficult conditions at a meeting that requires cooperation and consensus.

Avinash Persaud, special envoy to the Prime Minister of Barbados, said: “There is a lot of high and low expectations around this Egyptian COP, a lot of a mixture of ambition and fatalism.

Here’s what to watch out for during the 27th Conference of the Parties, or COP27, from 6 to 18 November and why it could still be successful.

Scientific warning

Scientists are more concerned about global warming than they were three decades ago, when governments first came together to discuss the issue because warming over the past decade is 33% faster than the 1990s.

Greenhouse gas emissions are still increasing, while the tangible effects of climate change are already being felt around the world.

But there is some progress. Before Paris, the world was trending 4.5 degrees Celsius (8.1 Fahrenheit) warmer by the end of the century than it was in pre-industrial times.

Recent projections have dropped to 2.6 C (4.7 F), thanks to measures taken or firm commitments the government has made. However, this is much higher than the 1.5 C (2.7 F) limit that countries agreed to seven years ago, and the time to maintain that target is quickly running out.

The world has already warmed by 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.2 degrees Celsius) and temperatures capped at 1.5 degrees Celsius will require emissions to fall by 43 percent by the end of the decade, the researchers say. very ambitious. To reach the less ambitious 2 C (3.6 F) target, emissions must be reduced by 27%.

“It’s 1.5 degrees in intensive care and the machines are shaking. So it’s high risk. But it’s still possible,” said United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “My goal in Egypt is to make sure that we muster enough political will to make this capability really move forward, to make the machines work… We’re getting close to the times. the point where the cut-off point can, at a certain point, make it. irreversible unattainable. Avoid it at all costs.”

Competition for energy

The prices of oil, coal and natural gas have skyrocketed since Russia invaded Ukraine. Some countries have responded by trying to exploit new sources of fossil fuels.

This has raised concerns about governments failing to deliver on emissions-cutting commitments, including an agreement at last year’s climate talks to “gradually cut” coal use and drastically reduce coal use. Methane – a powerful greenhouse gas – is released into the atmosphere.

At the same time, rising fossil fuel prices have made renewables more competitive. Even so, building solar and wind power plants is still more expensive for developing countries. To help them quickly cut emissions, wealthy nations are negotiating aid projects known as ‘forward-only energy partnerships’, or JET-Ps, with several economies. Major emerging markets including Indonesia and India could be completed during or shortly after COP27.

Climate finance

One of the key points in the previous negotiations involved the financial support poor countries receive from rich countries to deal with climate change.

The deadline for a $100 billion annual supply in 2020 has been omitted and now looks set to be reached only next year. Mohamed Nasr, Egypt’s chief negotiator, said future funding needs could amount to trillions, not billions.

The financial gap is huge, he said, noting that half of Africa’s population has no access to electricity, much less clean energy.

Developed countries including the United States have also failed to make good on their pledge to double the money they provide for adaptation and spend half of the overall funding.

Discussions on climate finance also include the hotly contested issue of how countries are compensated for the irreparable harm they incur as a result of global warming. Major polluters have strongly objected to ‘loss and damage’ claims in the past, but observers say they have seen a softening of views recently, including the US.

Inger Andersen, head of the UN Environment Programme, said: “I think people are not expecting miracles when a huge fund appears miraculously, but they are expecting a reliable and profitable path. meaningful,” said Inger Andersen, head of the UN Environment Programme.

This would give countries that have done little to cause the climate crisis but are on the front lines of dealing with it “something to hold on to,” she said.

Activist’s voice

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg will not be attending this year’s meeting and recently called the UN process a “scam”.

Other activists also expressed frustration at the slow pace of negotiations, given the scale of the threat posed by climate change. But Harjeet Singh of the International Network for Climate Action says there is no other space where all countries are equal.

“In theory, Tuvalu is as powerful as the US and Malawi is as strong as the European Union,” he said of the talks. “For us as civil society, it’s also a place to appeal to these nations, to call out their bluff, to heed those polluters, and to speak out for us. .”

Social scientist Dana Fisher of the University of Maryland, who studies the environmental movement, said with Egypt’s authoritarian government and the escalation of head-to-head tactics by frustrated protesters, especially As a young person, she wouldn’t be surprised if there was a clash.

“There will be a vanguard among them willing to break the law and engage in what may begin as peaceful civil disobedience,” Fisher said. “And they will probably be beaten. And it would be good to mobilize sympathizers.”

Egypt has insisted that campaigners will have “the full opportunity to participate, to act, to protest, to voice that opinion.”

Pay attention to Africa

The meeting in Egypt will be the first time since 2016 that UN climate talks take place in Africa. Experts say it is important that the continent gets more attention, given how hard it is affected by rising temperatures.

Preety Bhandari of the World Resources Institute said: “If we look at the 50 countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change and the least resilient, these are the countries that are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. low-income countries and most are in Africa. “So it’s coincidental that we hold this special COP in Africa to highlight what vulnerable countries are demanding from the climate regime.”

Campaigners say recognizing the challenges facing Africa and prioritizing the needs of vulnerable nations is essential to achieving successful outcomes this year.


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